If you try different wines, you are bound to figure out which wine you like! Glen Carlou is a relatively young wine estate which I knew very little about when I visited. That is an approach I prefer, as then I go in with no expectations and bias. It is ideal, in that the impression I am left with after the experience is mine, as opposed to one subliminally sneaking up on me based on ‘marketing’. I only realised at the weekend that it is Glen Carlou’s birthday month, so my timing can be part of me celebrating with them in my own way. This is not a paid for post, but my own experience having now been to the wine estate and getting connected with their hospitality. If you are not familiar with my style, I write about wine because I enjoy sharing what I learn, and so for that reason I don’t appreciate writers, particularly critics, who want to tell me what to think.
“What are you known for?” Chomba asked Zayne, who was the wine consultant hosting us for the wine tasting. “Chardonnay” replied Zayne, with noticeable confidence. That took me by surprise as my tasting plan, looking at the list, was a Pinot Noir and some red wines. It caused great consternation for me, as now looking at the list of 18 wines, picking my 5 wines to taste was thrown off balance with Chardonnay coming highly recommended. I don’t like tasting white wines and red wines back to back for some reason.
Chomba’s picks for tasting were different to mine on some of the wines. While it solved for me tasting more than five, I do find that when I taste more than five wines without being disciplined making tasting notes, I lose any form of learning from the experience and memory to inform future decision making when looking to buy.
The first wine I tasted was The Curator’s Collection Chenin Blanc 2015. As we sat outside on the balcony, the blue sky backdrop and natural light made for a wine in the glass that was a magical golden colour to look at. My senses were teased, and I wanted to give it a go. The label on the wine bottle added to the feeling of ‘something special’, particularly when reading the ‘3,3316 bottles made’! I picked up the glass, filled to the marker with wine, swirled it and put my nose in it. The aromatic nature of this Chenin Blanc was the antithesis of odourless. A pineapple fragrance came through for me. Chomba, had started with a Chardonnay, and as we shared glasses to get a sense of what the other was experiencing, she thought she picked up dry apricot aromas on sniffing the very Chenin Blanc I was tasting. The taste was rather unexpected, as it was less fruity tasting relative to the sweet fragrances I had picked up on the nose.
There was nothing not to like about the scene. “I’m so glad we came here” I thought to myself. This as Zayne was pouring my second glass to taste, which was the Quartz Stone Chardonnay, 2014 vintage. The Chardonnay was matured eleven months in the barrel according to Zayne. Again, the nose was pleasantly aromatic. The wine colour was a lighter shade of gold than the Chenin Blanc. On sipping it, the wine was not as heavy as I expected for a Chardonnay that was in Oak for eleven months. The wine had a surprisingly citrus like finish. It was not at all a long finish either. I’m more of a traditional Chardonnay enthusiast, and this Chardonnay I can see being a HIT with the preference of today for this wine grape, which is something more zesty and crisp and less buttery and heavy.
Now came the wine that had inspired my curiosity to come to the Glen Carlou Wine Estate. I had to curb my enthusiasm as I did not want to be so excited, that the only outcome was disappointment. The Glen Carlou Pinot Noir 2013 vintage. A black cherry colour, while sitting in the glass. Looking at it, and marvelling over my experience thus far, the wine promised balance and some body. Not these watery Pinot Noir’s that have made my search for the fascination with this wine grape elusive. The smoky nose won me over, and the sip just sealed the deal. The grapes are from the estate. I immediately texted my colleague who had recommended the Glen Carlou as one of his favourite Pinot Noirs. It was an image of the wine in the glass, with the wine bottle and label clearly visible next to the wine glass with the caption “You’re quite the surprise with your wine knowledge Willie. Good call, I like this.”
The fourth wine I tasted was the Curator’s Collection Shiraz 2015. Chomba had picked the Classic Range Syrah 2015, so again we could swap tastings. I couldn’t pick up any distinct fragrances on the nose. This does happen to me occasionally. I am not one to try and pretend I smell anything, when it is not at all obvious to my senses. That behaviour is not pretentious, it is lying. I liked the burgundy colour of the Shiraz. Again the label teased my expectations with the ’33,032 bottles made’ scribed in fonts that reminded me of an old type writer. Tasting the wine, I picked up strong cherry flavours, different to what I am accustomed to tasting when having a Shiraz. Chomba’s Classic Range Syrah, 2015, appealed to me more, as I also tasted what she had. It was such a HIT, we bought two bottles of that wine.
Last but not least was the Gravel Quarry Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 vintage. The tasting was winding down, and I was by then in lunch mode, evidence being my notes simply commenting on the green pepper nose and the dark burgundy colour of the wine. Nothing more and nothing less. Lunch was fantastic, and equalled by the service and the wine. As I usually end up doing, I joined the wine club, bought three bottles Pinot Noir and 2 bottles of the Syrah. After lunch I also tasted the Petit Verdot Tannat 2012, a new release, as I wanted to make it a round number of six bottles. We also bought Chardonnay, the one that was not available for tasting, which was 25th Vintage Commemorative Quartz Stone Chardonnay 2012. Seeing as this is the birthday month for Glen Carlou, with 2017 being their 30th harvest of Chardonnay, I will open this bottle on the cusp of my birthday month and theirs, so likely 30th September 2017.